Motivation: Raise them right

Ashley Thaba

By Ashley Thaba

I WAS speaking to a friend today who asked me some tips on raising young children. I thought I would make my article about that today since it is fresh on my mind. The hope is that this article will offer some practical advice to encourage you if you are currently parenting young children.

The first two years of a child’s life are the most crucial in brain development. That is where so many foundations are built (or not built) which will play a part in what the child can do (or not do) or can feel (or not feel) later on in life. Many times we don’t realise the complexity of the brain in dealing with a baby.

If a baby feels secure, then the brain is able to advance into more complicated development which allows for more emotional maturity. If a child does not feel safe, then the child’s basic instinct to survive is put into overdrive and prohibits more complicated brain development which deals with processing emotions.

This is why sometimes you find a child who was neglected or abandoned as a child has “street smarts” and can lack emotional empathy and maturity.

I didn’t mean to make this a neurology lesson. My point is simply to stress how extremely important it is to interact with your baby, hold your baby, touch your baby, love your child, talk to your child, etc. In those first two years. You are doing tremendous good in helping the child’s brain development.

Now, moving past the first two years, we move into the crucial first seven years. During this time, we aren’t so worried about brain development per se as 80% of the brain cells a person has their whole life develop in the first two years. Now, we are concerned with the character of the child. This is the time where the personality and core values solidify. During this time, a child wants to be around you, as their parent or elder role model. They want to tell you their stories. They want to play with you. They desperately want your approval and attention. They are like a sponge and it is up to you what you fill that sponge with.

During this time, they look to you to set the standard. That is a tall order. Will you model for them honesty, calmness, dependability, and faithfulness?

Will you model for them anger, dishonesty, irresponsibility, and unfaithfulness? Can they trust you to come home every night? Can they trust your word if you promise you will play with them or give them a gift? Can they trust you will be faithful to their mother or father? Can they trust you will not lose your temper and become abusive? Can they trust that you truly care and they are truly worthy of your time?

What values do they hear you speak of? Each of us make decisions based on a world view. Do they hear you saying things like this, “We need money so it doesn’t matter how we get it, we have to make a way.” Or do they hear you saying: “We have tried to do our best, work hard, and treat everyone fairly and honestly. God will provide.”

Do they see you ignore people when you don’t get your way or do they see you stay and have the tough conflict resolving conversations?

What is that child learning?

What about work ethic? Is there a maid in the house doing all the work? Or, are they expected to do tasks? It is during this time where they actually want to serve and help out, so we do ourselves and their future selves a favour by making them start doing household chores as soon as possible.

What seems like fun now to begin learning to wash the dishes will soon become a skill that adds value to the family home and makes the child feel they add worth to the home.

What about how you treat people? Do they see you speak to the maid with respect or with a sense of arrogance and disrespect?

What about the person at the grocery store checking out your groceries? Do you greet that person or do you keep quiet? Every day, in every way, your child is watching and like a sponge, they are learning what their mother or father value. Statistics prove generally, without outside intervention, most children will share similar values to those they experienced in the home.

That puts an incredible responsibility on your shoulders to be mindful of how you act at all times when raising a young child. My prayer for you today is that for your sake, for the child’s sake, and for the nation’s sake you don’t try and pan that job of parenting to a teacher, a grandparents, a maid, or anyone else.

That is your child and no one can better fill that sponge with hope and good values better than you!

Our nation will thank you if you play your part in making your child grow into  an adult who is respectful, kind, honest, and hard working.

  • Ashley Thaba is a life-coach, team-building facilitator and motivational speaker.